Replacing fire foam offshore

October 7, 2005, 12:30 CEST

Hydro is replacing all its fire-fighting foams containing the environmentally toxic substance PFOS. The company stopped using this type of fire foam during testing exercises in 2003, but it is still a part of legally sanctioned fire-fighting contingency systems offshore.

The toxic and ecologically accumulative nature of PFOS (perfluorinated-octyl-sulfonate) has been known for some time. The substance is an industrial chemical found in a number of products, including fire foam used in the oil industry.

“Due to information that has come to light, Hydro has decided to replace and incinerate this environmentally harmful fire foam,” says Ståle Teigen, leader for Hydro’s department of external environments in Bergen.

Evaluating safety risk
Hydro has evaluated how to replace the fire foam on offshore installations and analyzed the safety risk both in relation to on-board emergency preparedness and for those replacing the foam. There is still no official ban on the foam, but it is expected.

“We don’t want to have this stuff in our fire-foam tanks and have decided to replace it in anticipation of an imminent ban,” says Teigen. Hydro will start the replacement process with the supplier company at the end of the year.